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I used to regularly go to a Saturday morning spin class a long time ago. It was low tech, a bit grungy, and, the sound system left a lot to be desired, but I miss the straight-up cardio workout that I got from that class. When I found out that a CycleBar Littleton had opened in Southwest Plaza Mall, I was excited to give it a try, especially since the location is set between both my home and work. How does CycleBar compare to my old spin class? Well, how does my high school era Honda Civic with an 8-track player compare to a Tesla Roadster? Both get you around, but one is a lot more hip, high tech, and the lights and sound system are light years different.
My First Spin Class at CycleBar®
I have been out of the spin class routine for a while, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at CycleBar. First off, I geeked out on the sign-in system – Pick your class and the bike you want ahead of time on the web, then, when you show up, sign in on one of their tablets. For my first class they greeted me with a free water bottled personalized with my name on to the top, and my name on a personal locker. I was also excited to try the special clip-in style bike shoes they provide everyone to wear. I’ve never been enough of a road cyclist to get my own shoes, but have always wanted to give them a try for the full push/pull effect while pedaling. I grabbed my shoes, dropped my stuff in my locker (which has a USB charging port for your phone btw), and I was ready to ride.
Into the cycling studio next, which has the feel of a dance club. The bikes, lighting, and sound system all caught my attention as I walked into the workout area. The friendly staff helped my clueless self to get set up on my bike with the right seat and handlebar settings. I’m embarrassed to say they also had to show me how to clip my fancy bike shoes into the pedals and turn on the high-tech monitor that is on each bike. The monitor displays your pedal RPM’s, the resistance you set, your power, time ridden, and distance travelled. It also connects you to the rest of the class and let’s you race other classmates and compare your results at the end. It may sound a bit intimidating, but I enjoyed the added inspiration to push for my best effort. Once I was locked in and ready to go, I took in the VIP bottle-service style atmosphere – I enjoyed the lighting and sound system.
The Music and the CycleStars®
Each instructor customizes their music for the classes they teach. I took a total of 5 classes and it was fun to see each instructor’s preferences (they are called CycleStars, and for good reason – they go through an intensive 4-day boot camp to become instructors). The music and playlist are a big part of a spin class, at least to me. The beat of each song sets your pedaling RPM’s and kicks in the inspiration to another level. If you like the playlist from class, no need to ask about the music, you can find the playlists on Spotify and listen to them again. A few of my favorites tracks were old school Michael Jackson and Prince songs that were mixed into the playlist. These songs really got me pumped to push harder. It was a lot of fun. (Back in the day, the Foo Fighters “All My Life” was the spin class song that pushed me to my limits – I think I have a form of pseudo PTSD whenever I hear that song now.)
The Workout, CycleStats® and Racing Your Neighbor
The class itself has all the elements I remember from spin and introduced me to a few new tricks I hadn’t seen before. The beat of each song sets your pedaling speed, and the instructor calls out the pace to match plus a suggested resistance range to set on your bike. If you’re feeling strong, you can crank up the resistance, or if it’s a “I’m just glad I made it in here” day, you can dial it back a bit too. The different beats and resistances give you the feel of steady climbs, rolling hills, and flat sprints. There are songs where everyone stands up out of the saddle to crank up a hill, some songs sitting back on the seat, and a few that combine the two and add some upper body push-ups and movements on the handle bars. About two-thirds through the class they throw in an upper body workout with a weighted bar to do bicep, triceps, and shoulder exercises while pedaling. After a tough workout and an all-out finish, the instructors lead you through a cool-down and some good recovery stretches.
A new aspect for me was how the high tech bikes track your stats for the time you’re on the bike and add an element of competition to your ride. All your stats and class ranking are emailed to you after each ride, so you can track your progress and compete against your personal best. You can opt to keep your stats private, but the connected bikes let the instructors set up sprint races and team challenges to keep the workout exciting and add some extra inspiration to push your limits. They also have a number of classes without the competition if you just want to focus on your ride.
The CycleBar Southwest Plaza Community
I found it to be a great mix of people at the workouts – from obvious hard-core bikers all the way to more of an entry level of fitness (I slide somewhere in the middle of this scale depending on the day). Everyone was very friendly and welcoming. One time I got second place and it was great to share a laugh after class with the first-place rider. We probably wouldn’t have connected without the interconnected bikes which was fun (I’ll get you next time Jeff). They also have a lot of fun themed events through the week – Sunday Brunch ride (mimosas afterwards), Wine Down Wednesday, and Friday Happy Hour ride (Join us for the FitLo Passport Event at this Friday’s Happy Hour ride). As a newbie to the studio, it was a relief how the front desk staff, the CycleStars, and the other riders all made me feel part of the group at every ride.
The CycleBar Amenities
The CycleBar is designed to provide a premium experience from start to finish. I think they’ve nailed it. The sign-in is automated, the bike shoes are free and in excellent condition. The locker area has fruit, snacks, water on tap (both chilled and room temp), and the bikes, lighting, and sound system are all top notch. They even provide a chilled towel at the end of class to help you cool down. For those of you who are early birds (not me) and want to hit a class before you start the day, they have private showers and everything you need: towels, shampoo, shaving cream, razors, deodorant, and more. You don’t have to bring anything but a change of clothes. From the beginning to the end, it’s obvious they care about the details.
Read More About CycleBar…
Take a CycleBar Class with FitLo
Come give CycleBar a try for yourself! Join us for a FitLo Passport Event this Friday 2/23.
5:00 pm Check-in | 5:30-6:15 pm Classic Ride | 6:15 – 7 pm Happy Hour
More FitLo Ambassadors and I will both be there ready to ride with you. The Happy Hour includes post workout snacks and beverages (alcoholic and nonalcoholic).